Pre-Owned Spotlight: Integrated-Bracelet Steel Sports Watches Under €10K
Okay, the hype may be over its most hysterical peak, but integrated-bracelet steel sports watches remain all the rage. And rightfully so as they can be the ultimate daily companions. They combine a rugged build with a luxurious fit and finish. And that, my dear Fratelli, tends to pull on our heartstrings. Unfortunately, most iconic watches in this genre have grown far beyond the common watch lover’s reach. So today, I want to look at some pre-owned picks at different price levels, all of which are under €10K.
Of course, you could look at the plethora of modern reinterpretations of the genre, many of which are by brands that were not even around yet when the genre emerged. But I want to raise the bar a bit. I will try to find three pre-owned picks that can actually trace their roots back to the time of the OG integrated-bracelet steel sports watches.
An integrated-bracelet steel sports watch from IWC: Ingenieur SL
For my first pick, I immediately blow the entire budget. But bear with me; it is a rather cool watch. And I will surely offer a more affordable option next. What we have here is a 1980s IWC Ingenieur SL Automatic ref. 3506. At 34mm, this is a small watch by the standards of modern integrated-bracelet steel sports watches. However, I have had a chance to wear one, and I am happy to report it works fantastically well. It is so brutalist in its aesthetic that it compensates for its size. In fact, I think the size balances it out in that sense.
The Ingenieur line has been around since 1954 as a highly antimagnetic watch aimed at scientists and engineers. It was not until 1976 that it became an integrated-bracelet steel sports watch at the hand of none other than Gérald Genta. I think, then, it is fair to say that this is one of the OGs of the genre.
This is a later version, smaller than the 40mm original ref. 1832. That reference, however, is so rare that it will cost around three times today’s budget. An IWC-adapted ETA 2892 caliber powers this ref. 3506. It seems to be in immaculate condition and is currently for sale in Belgium. It is priced at €9,500.
An integrated-bracelet steel sports watch from Omega: Seamaster Day-Date
Okay, on to the opposite end of the spectrum. Well, price-wise, at least. This is a very cool Omega Seamaster Day-Date ref. 166.0216 from the late ’70s or early ’80s. Its tonneau case measures 35mm in diameter. From experience, I can say that it wears quite a bit larger than the IWC above.
Personally, I love the super-clean design. It is very much “of its time,” but somehow works just as well today. You also get a slenderness that is hard to find in modern integrated-bracelet steel sports watches. This generation gets a bad rep for its calibers. The caliber 1020 in this one, however, seems to be one of the more reliable of the 1xxx family.
This Omega Seamaster Day-Date ref. 166.0216 is offered on eBay. Its seller from Japan has a 100% rating after 610 items sold. That compensates somewhat for the rather sparse information in the listing. A couple of critical questions first and US$1,408 later will land you this cool Omega.
But if you’re open to it: Rolex Datejust Oysterquartz
I know we have readers who would not entertain the thought of buying a quartz watch. You are missing out! Shed all your associations with cheap Main Street jewelry and fashion brands. When done right, quartz technology is a thing of beauty. And Rolex did it right — and then abandoned it.
Still, this ref. 17000 Oysterquartz Datejust is a favorite of mine. I particularly love the silver dial paired with the integrated Oyster bracelet. It has an architectural forcefulness that is unique to the Oysterquartz Datejust. Although, yes, there is a mechanical version of this — the very rare Oyster Perpetual Date ref. 1530.
I have picked one on the upper end of the price scale since many have been worn to bits. This, too, was refinished, but most of the more affordable ones are badly over-polished. Don’t expect these to be bargains compared to mechanical Datejusts anymore. Those days are over. This one is offered on Chrono24 by a French dealer at €7,300.
Watches with original style
I think these three examples show that you can find integrated-bracelet steel sports watches with original designs outside of the usual suspects. I think the genre is too often narrowed down to three top dogs and, otherwise, only derivatives and homages. That is unfair and, like most purist principles, limits your potential enjoyment of watches.
Even in today’s entries from established and up-and-coming brands, there is originality and creativity to be found. Personally, though, it would be an Oysterquartz every day if I could have my pick.
Which is your favorite of the watches above? And do you have any other alternatives worth considering? Let us know in the comments below!
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Featured image source: Le Vintager